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      The stats tell it all: The number one cause of death in the United States is heart disease. That’s right, more than any other disease – even cancer (a close second) – heart disease is the most likely to kill you. The United States is currently facing a “diabesity” epidemic, or a substantial increase in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome leading to diabetes and obesity, all serious risk factors for heart disease.

      According to the American Heart Association, every 34 seconds someone in the US dies of a heart attack. By the time you finish reading this paragraph, another person will have lost their life. Sadly, many people do not even know they have heart disease until they experience a heart attack. These facts alone make Heart Health a critical topic to understand.

  • Skin Health
    • Skin Health

      The gut-skin connection is very significant. Inflammatory processes present in the gut may manifest on the skin. Toxins are expelled with sweat, and can cause the skin to react. Like the inside of the digestive tract, the skin is covered in microbes which can be neutral, protective or pathogenic. Skin reaction may reflect what is going on inside the body. Therefore treating skin conditions only from the outside will often be ineffective and lead to other chronic issues.

  • Brain Health
    • Brain Health

      The gut-brain connection occurs in two directions—from the brain to the gut, and from the gut to the brain. When a person has a “gut feeling,” or an emotional upset causes a stomachache or loss of appetite, they experience examples of the first, most familiar direction. When the gut is out of balance, inflammation results leading to a condition commonly known as leaky gut. A leaky gut will allow undigested food particles and toxins to enter into the bloodstream. Some may cross into the brain, setting the stage for diseases like Alzheimers and dementia. Recognizing the underlying contributing factors that created the gut imbalance in the first place is the first step to achieving optimal brain function .

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Beware of Toxins Emitted From Hand Blenders

Filed in Environmental Toxins | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/28/2014


The results of a recent study come from an accidental discovery in a previous study that analyzed organic pollutant levels in cat food. Trace amounts of chlorinated paraffins were found in the cat food and traced back to a hand blender that was used to mix the food. As a result, the researchers decided to study hand blenders in a formal study of its own.

Published in a Swedish medical journal, the study determined that out of twelve tested hand blenders, eight of them leaked chlorinated paraffins when used according to the instructions. Five of them emitted levels that were high in the opinion of the researchers. The eight brands that leaked the chemicals, in order of increasing contamination, are: OBH Nordica Kitchen, Russel Hobbs, Coline, OBH Nordica Kitchen Quickmix, Electrolux Ultramix Pro, Matsui, Braun Multiquick3, and Voltage. The brands with the least amount of leaked paraffins, in order of increasing amounts, are: Bosch, OBH NOrdica Chili, Philips Promix, and OBH Nordica Indigo. Full study details are here.

Chlorinated paraffins affect liver, kidney, and thyroid function, and are a possible carcinogen. They are used in the metal and plastic industries.

“People can be exposed to harmful substances by ingestion of food that has been mixed, which is serious, especially if it affects small children,” noted Ake Bergman, one of the researchers.

This study highlights the simple fact that we are exposed to so many toxins throughout the day, most of which we are unaware of, and almost all of which we do not know of the long-term safety effects. Our health is on the line, and yet the regulations surrounding chemical safety testing remain stuck in the mid-20th century.

Metabolic Effect of Prebiotics and Probiotics in Overweight People

Filed in Diabetes, Heart Disease, Human Microbiome, Obesity, Prebiotics, Probiotics & Gut Flora | Posted by lsmith on 11/26/2014


Brenda and I have talked at length, here on the blog and also in our books, about the importance of gut bacterial balance to weight management. Having the wrong microbes in your gut predisposes you to weight gain, the topic of our last book, The Skinny Gut Diet. Following this line of thinking, researchers have tested the effects of pre- and probiotics on a range of metabolic abnormalities in humans. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal Clinical Nutrition found that prebiotics and synbiotics (prebiotics plus probiotics) had a beneficial effect on a range of metabolic abnormalities in overweight or obese adults.1

Remember that prebiotics are compounds—usually soluble fibers—that act as food for the beneficial gut bacteria. They help to increase the levels or activity of the beneficial bacteria in the gut.

The analysis included 513 overweight or obese adult participants from thirteen different clinical trials. Nine of the trials administered prebiotics, and four of the trials administered synbiotics. The prebiotics were mostly inulin-type fibers at doses ranging from 5.5 to 21 grams per day, while the synbiotics were composed of a maximum of 2.5 grams of the prebiotic FOS (fructooligosaccharide) along with 270 million to 5 billion cultures of Bifidobacterium, and/or Lactobacillus, and/or Streptococcus probiotic bacteria daily.

Prebiotic supplementation was found to reduce total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) concentrations, while also reducing triglycerides and increasing HDL-cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) in participants with diabetes. Synbiotic supplementation was found to reduce fasting insulin and triglyceride levels.

“The supplementation of prebiotics or synbiotics could take part in the management of obesity-related comorbidities, such as dyslipidemia and insulin resistance.”

Some of the studies reported abdominal symptoms such as bloating, pain, and nausea, but they also noted improvement of symptoms during the supplementation and no withdrawal of participants from the studies, which the researchers believe is due to an adaptation period. Some people have difficulty tolerating inulin-derived prebiotics (including FOS), which are fermented in the digestive tract to a high degree and can trigger symptoms.

The authors of the review did not look at the effects of taking probiotics alone for some reason. Previous studies administering fermented milk and yogurt containing probiotics have found beneficial effects on cholesterol levels.2 Another study found that a high-dose, multistrain probiotic reduced total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL-cholesterol, as well as increased HDL-cholesterol in overweight adults.3 More studies are needed to determine the effects of probiotics alone on metabolic abnormalities in overweight and obese adults.

The really good news is whether you take prebiotics, synbiotics, or just probiotics, they all seem to have a significant benefit on mitigating metabolic syndrome (high cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides, insulin, blood sugar, and blood pressure, and low HDL, along with increased waist size). Metabolic syndrome is now the world’s greatest health challenge.

Since fiber is critical, it would be wise to eat an 80%+ plant-based diet or at least take prebiotics in addition to probiotics. As we have stated many times: Taking beneficial bacteria plus prebiotic fibers leads to major benefits in immune balance by modulating inflammation. In other words, you will have appropriate inflammation if attacked by an infection, but not the inflammation that is the foundation of metabolic syndrome, autoimmunity, allergies and most all disease conditions.

Start out slow with these products and increase gradually. If there is too much gas, bloating, or abdominal discomfort, stop for a few days and start back on a lower dose. You wouldn’t think of doing a marathon without training, likewise it may take time and persistence to retrain your intestinal response to good bacteria and fiber. Those on an 80 percent or more plant-based diet usually adapt quicker since they are already eating plenty of fiber, the foods preferred by beneficial bacteria.

References

  1. Beserra BTS, Fernandes R, do Rosario VA, et al., “A systematic review and meta-analysis of the prebiotics and synbiotics effects on glycaemia, insulin concentrations and lipid parameters in adult patients with overweight or obesity.” Clin Nutr. 2014; online ahead of print.
  2. Pereira DI and Gibson GR, “Effects of consumption of probiotics and prebiotics on serum lipid levels in humans.” Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 2002;37(4):259-81.
  3. Rajkumar H, Mahmood N, Kumar M, et al., “Effect of probiotic (VSL#3) and omega-3 on lipid profile, insulin sensitivity, inflammatory markers, and gut colonization in overweight adults: a randomized, controlled trial.” Mediators Inflamm. 2014;2014:348959.

Sandi’s Chocolate Pumpkin Treats

Filed in Recipes, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/25/2014


For a treat that satisfies your sweet tooth without adding on the pounds, these chocolate pumpkin cups are the perfect choice. I keep them on hand for a sweet treat without the sugar.

pumpkin-chocolate-treats

These chocolate cups have only 0.5 teaspoons of sugar (that includes sugar that breaks down from starchy carbohydrates), as calculated using my sugar tracker calculation from my book, The Skinny Gut Diet:

teaspoon-tracker

0.5 teaspoons of sugar per cup
65 minutes to prepare and freeze
Makes 20 cups

Chocolate
1/3 cup coconut cream concentrate (coconut butter)
1/3 cup coconut oil
6 tablespoons cacao powder
1 teaspoon natural, non-caloric sweetener (monk fruit, stevia, etc.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Filling
½ cup pumpkin puree (canned or prepared from fresh pumpkin)
¼ cup nut butter
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Topping
¼ cup coarsely chopped nuts

1. Melt the coconut cream and the coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and add the cacao powder, sweetener, vanilla extract, and 1 tablespoon of the pumpkin pie spice. Mix until well blended.
2. Place cupcake liners into a mini muffin pan. Add ½ teaspoon chocolate mixture to each of 20 cups. Place in freezer for about 20 minutes.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, nut butter, and 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice. Place ½ teaspoon of the filling mixture on top of frozen chocolate. Place another ½ teaspoon of chocolate mixture over the filling.
4. Sprinkle with the coarsely chopped nuts, and freeze for 30 minutes or until hardened.

Roasted Brussels Sprout Leaves and Leeks

Filed in Recipes, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/25/2014


I have found that even the most devote Brussels sprouts haters actually love to eat the leaves. That’s good news because these nutritious veggies are so good for you and your liver. I like to use my hands when preparing this dish because it adds an extra touch of love.

Brussels-sprout-leaves

20 minutes to prepare and cook
Serves 6

1 pound large Brussels sprouts
2 large leeks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
Optional: ¼ cup crushed cashews or 2 strips cooked, crumbled bacon

  1. Remove stems from the Brussels sprouts and slice in half, lengthwise. With a small knife, cut out the core (small white part inside) to make it easy to separate the leaves. Set leaves aside in a bowl.
  2. Slice the leeks and break up the slices into circles. Combine with the Brussels sprouts leaves. Add the olive oil, lemon pepper seasoning, and optional cashew or bacon and mix well, massaging with your hands to coat with the oil.
  3. Spread the leaves and circles onto a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on desired consistency. I let the leeks get nice and browned.

Childhood Obesity Linked to Early and Frequent Antibiotic Use

Filed in Antibiotics, Children, Human Microbiome, Obesity | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/24/2014


Antibiotic overuse during childhood is rampant. Most physicians, often at the parent’s urging, will prescribe an antibiotic for colds, flu, and ear infections even though antibiotic prescription is not indicated in such cases. Antibiotics are unnecessary for these common childhood ailments, and their overuse has far-reaching negative effects.

In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, researchers studied the medical records of almost 65,000 babies and children in the Philadelphia area. They discovered that babies who received wide-spectrum antibiotics (including amoxicillin, tetracycline, streptomycin, moxifloxacin, and ciprofloxacin) during their first two years of life were 11 percent more likely to be obese between ages 2 and 5 than those who did not receive the drugs. And the earlier the exposure to the drugs, the more likely the child was to be obese between age 3 and 5.

“Because the first 24 months of life comprise major shifts in diet, growth, and the establishment of intestinal microbiome, this interval may comprise a window of particular susceptibility to antibiotic effects,” noted the researchers.

Martin Blaser, a prominent researcher who is currently studying the effects of antibiotics on the human gut microbiome has said, “Antibiotic perturbation may cause a shift to an alternative stable state, the full consequences of which remain unknown.” His studies have found that gut bacteria may never fully recover after antibiotic use.

Antibiotic use has been linked to obesity in adults and children in previous studies, so this new study in children only adds to the evidence that gut bacterial balance is essential for weight management. Truly there is more to the story than calories in, calories out, a topic that I cover in depth in my new book, The Skinny Gut Diet.

“This really gives strong evidence that, often, obesity really is not a personal choice,” noted Stephen Cook, MD, MPH, lead researcher. He said that childhood obesity “is a much more complicated issue than ‘move more and eat less.’”

Even the authors of the study are skeptical that physicians will give up using antibiotics for these conditions, so they suggest using narrow-spectrum antibiotics instead, which target a smaller group of bacteria and have less of a negative impact on the beneficial gut bacteria. This is a step in the right direction, but judicious use of antibiotics is really imperative if we are to stop the spread of antibiotic resistance.

Fresh Cranberry Relish Delight

Filed in Recipes, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/21/2014


This delicious relish is a new twist on an old favorite. A refreshing hint of sweet without all the sugar, this cranberry delight is sure to please.

fresh-cranberry-relish

15 minutes to prepare
Serves 16

1 large unpeeled orange, cut into wedges and seeded
One 12-ounce package Fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
1 apple, chopped
1 cup pecans
½ cup fresh orange juice

  1. Blend orange, cranberries, apple, and pecans in a food processor until evenly chopped, but still chunky. Transfer to bowl.
  2. Add the orange juice. Cover and refrigerate. Serve chilled.

My New Public Television Special Airing Nationwide

Filed in The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/20/2014


sgvy-stripe

Have you heard? Skinny Gut, Vibrant You begins airing nationwide next week, and I couldn’t be more excited. The path to weight loss success starts here!

So many people ask me the secret to losing weight and keeping it off—an issue I struggled with for a long time. Today, I am here to tell you that you are not entirely responsible for your weight gain or your poor health. There is actually a missing piece to the puzzle.

It has to do with the trillions of bacteria inside your gut and whether they are in balance or out of balance. They are the underlying reason why you struggle to lose weight and achieve optimal health. But, by addressing your gut balance you will finally be able to lose the weight and keep it off—plus enjoy the side benefits of fewer digestive problems, a stronger immune system, and even a better mood.

In Skinny Gut, Vibrant You I reveal how the Skinny Gut Program can help you regain vibrant health. Be sure to tune in to this eye-opening special that reveals the science behind your inner weight loss secret and provides simple ways to achieve permanent weight loss.

Click here to find out when it will be airing locally, and be sure to watch Skinny Gut, Vibrant You starting next week!

For a quick preview of my new special, click on the link below!

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Guilt-Free, Grain-Free Stuffing

Filed in Recipes, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/19/2014


Homemade stuffing is one of the biggest temptations at Thanksgiving dinner for those of us who are limiting grains and starches. But rest assured that I have a delicious breadless stuffing option that you and your family will love.

grain-free-stuffing

60 minutes to prepare and cook
Serves 6

1 large sweet potato or yam, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 slices bacon
1 onion, chopped
5 stalks celery, chopped (organic, if possible)
2 medium Granny Smith apples, chopped (organic, if possible)
1 pound pork sausage
4 tablespoons apple cider
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup organic chicken broth
1 cup dried tart cherries (with no added sugar)
1 cup chopped walnuts
Salt and pepper
Parchment paper

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread the sweet potato or yam pieces on a cooking sheet and dredge with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the bacon on another baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake both sheets for 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside to cool, removing the bacon from the parchment paper. Save the bacon grease.
  2. In a large skillet, sauté the onions, celery, and apples in 2 tablespoons of bacon grease on medium heat. When the onions begin to soften, add the pork sausage and apple cider, and sauté until cooked, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. In large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, chicken broth, sweet potatoes, dried tart cherries, walnuts, and crumbled bacon. Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

Book Review and Giveaway—I Quit Sugar

Filed in Diet, Sugar, Weight Loss | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/17/2014


i-quit-sugarWe are all familiar with the enticing pull of sugar—sweet desserts, succulent fruits, and refreshing juices have graced our lips on numerous occasions. If you are among the many who fear you could never give up your sweet treats, I have a book for you. I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson is a complete 8-week program that gradually weans you off sugar, week by week.

If you have the sinking feeling that you eat too much sugar (and you need to do something about it), this book is a great introduction for you. The book is beautifully designed with plenty of tips and how-to’s that will help you succeed every step of the way. With over 100 delicious recipes, like Zucchini “Cheesecake” and Coconut Curry Meatballs, or on-the-go snacks like Meal-in-a-Cracker, I Quit Sugar is a treasure trove of good advice.

Sarah Wilson quit sugar in January of 2011 as an experiment and never looked back. She suffered from the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (a disease that involves an attack of the thyroid by the immune system) and knew that sugar negatively affected the disease. She was addicted to sugar, but was able to break her habit with the 8-week program that she outlines in the book. The book will show you how to take sugar out of your diet and get well.

I love her “facts to arm yourself with”:

  1. Fat doesn’t make you fat (sugar does).
  2. Fat fills us up—so we can’t gorge on it.
  3. But, we gorge on sugar. In fact, we’re designed to.
  4. Sugar turns directly to fat.
  5. Sugar messes with our hormone systems.

And that’s just the beginning. I would add that starchy carbohydrates break down into sugar and have a wide range of negative effects of their own, but sugar is certainly the biggest culprit when it comes to its stronghold on our health, and it’s a great place to start.

I recommend this book to anyone who can’t bear the thought of giving up sugar. I am here to tell you that you can, and I Quit Sugar will help you on your way.

Sarah has agreed to giveaway one free copy of her book. To enter, simply share in the comments what you’re doing to lead a sugar-free lifestyle and we’ll pick one lucky person at random to win a copy of her book. Good luck!

Skinny Gut Food Friday—Cacao, Avocado, and Chia Mousse Recipe

Filed in Recipes, The Skinny Gut Diet | Posted by Brenda Watson on 11/14/2014


Every Friday for six weeks I have been sharing with you a recipe from my new book, The Skinny Gut Diet. If you have tried it all, but you still can’t lose weight, then this book is for you. You are not entirely to blame for your extra pounds. As it turns out, the bacteria in your gut play a major role in whether or not you will lose weight—and keep it off—for good.

cacao-avocado-chia-mousse

Cacao, avocado, and chia mousse is a decadent dessert that you don’t have to feel guilty about. When you have a craving for sweets, this simple yet delicious dessert is all you need, with only 1.6 teaspoons of sugar (that includes sugar that breaks down from starchy carbohydrates), as calculated using my sugar tracker calculation:

teaspoon-tracker

0.6 teaspoons of sugar
15 minutes to prepare and cook
Serves 4

1 avocado
¼ cup cacao powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons chia seeds

Place the avocado, vanilla, and almond milk in a food processor and process until smooth. Stir in the chia seeds. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour. Scoop into individual bowls and serve chilled.